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 500 High School Students Explore Career Paths at the 22nd Annual Hospitality Conference and Career Fair

Imagine being in high school and having a magic mirror that could show you career opportunities that meet your interests, and tell you how get there. It was a lot like that for more than 500 San Diego County high school students had at the 22nd Annual High School Hospitality and Tourism Conference and Career Fair on Thursday, Feb. 20. 

The event was designed to prepare and inspire students, who are currently enrolled in hospitality and culinary programs, for future career success in one of San Diego’s fastest growing sectors. During the day, students explored various careers paths, interacted with top industry professionals and even filled out applications to secure summer job opportunities.

Students came from Hilltop, Hoover, Garfield, Granite Hills, e3 Civic, IDEA Center, Madison, Mira Mesa, Mission Hills, Monarch School, Morse, Mount Miguel, San Diego, San Diego Center for Children, San Diego Job Corp North, San Pasqual Academy, and Vista. As part of the conference, students broke into groups for behind-the-scene tours at 20 hotels, restaurants and local hot spots.

“Participants walk away feeling inspired,” said Al Love, senior sirector of college and career readiness at the San Diego County Office of Education. “They start talking about their passions, goals and future steps they are going to take to ensure they become tomorrow’s leaders in this growing and important sector in the San Diego economy.”

The conference was sponsored and organized by San Diego County Chapter- California Restaurant Association, SDG&E, San Diego Unified School District, and San Diego Hotel- Motel Association.

The hospitality and tourism sector in San Diego employs 194,000 residents and generates more than $778 million annually in state and local taxes, according to The San Diego Tourism Authority. Tourism is the second largest export industry in San Diego and accounts for one-in-eight local jobs. And, industry leaders say they have more jobs than workers.